Most people have figured out by reading my reviews, columns and other assorted passages of bloggery that I’m wired a little bit different. Most people wouldn’t have the guts (or foolishness) to write a gaming column for four years on a site that is dominated by movie reviews. Contrary to many other review writers, I am interested in the story rather than the technical specs. It’s no wonder that last year’s 31 days of Horror, I wrote a rather long review on The Thing without even touching any information about the dvd or blu-ray release.
This Halloween spectacular I decided to go back to my gaming roots. As one might expect, I have a long list of games that I’ve bought and never touched. Two of those games were Bioshock 1 and 2. Games that are known for their attention to detail and deliver a frightening punch in the storyline. However, I knew in my heart after playing the first Bioshock for about twenty minutes that there was no way I could write a traditional review.
Besides, the titles had already been out for a length of time where there are dozens of write-ups that have covered every inch of a traditional review. I had to do something different, I had to do something me. My hope is that for the few of you who haven’t played either of the Bioshocks are persuaded by my words written here and give these games a chance. They are wonderful and rich and will certainly haunt your dreams for many weeks to come. But I say that in the most delightful way.
The year is sometime in the 1960’s. We are flying over the Atlantic Ocean on a transatlantic flight to a destination unknown. Our name is Jack and mommy and daddy always knew that we were going to amount to greatness. However, what they didn’t know was that the plane flying over the ocean was actually going to crash. Soon, we are underneath the water and doing everything we can to get to the surface. We eventually make it and see the plane and surrounding areas burst into flames. This is the point where we take over the character.
Luckily, there is a clear path leading towards a lighthouse. I’ve learned that plenty of creepy movies have a lighthouse involved. See The Fog or Tormented and numerous movies with the name Lighthouse in them for further proof. We make it to the lighthouse and go up the stairs to the entrance. Once you enter the door however, it slams shut behind you. Yeah, we are screwed. Soooo screwed.
Anyway, we make it down the stairs that are right in front of us and study various plaques along the way. At the end is a bathysphere, think of it as an elevator to an unknown destination. With one pull of the lever, it starts to go down into the watery depths. We are soon treated to a welcome video about the city of Rapture, a Utopian paradise led by a man named Andrew Ryan. Sweet, looks like this vacation is going to start early. The video ends and we are soon treated to our first actual view of Rapture.
Oh, look there is a man just walking along. This is going to be a nice story where we live in paradise and talk to each other about the weather. And wouldn’t you know it, right by him is his doggy who looks like…OH MY GOD, THAT ISN’T NO DOGGY. THAT’S A MONSTER AND HE’S KILLING HIM! As we lay witness to the savagery of this monster who can only be described as some giant spider with hooks, we realize that we are still thankfully behind the glass watching this event unfold. Thank goodness, I’m pretty sure that little freak of evil could smell the urine and fecal matter that is now at the bottom of this tube around us.
Unfortunately, our urine stain is so strong that the little creature does get wind of it and studies us for a while before flying off into the darkness. Our capsule opens and we hear a voice emanating from a radio nearby. We strap it to us and suddenly hear the voice of Atlas coming from the speaker. Atlas tells us a little about the city of Rapture and how the place that used to be a utopia is now a horrific maze of monsters and traps ran by a madman. Oh really? I suppose this is the part where I gasp and say “Oh no! This can’t be happening”. Actually, I already did that in the bathysphere, can’t you see the yellow stain on my trousers?
So we get moving and we are soon treated to seeing a creature known as a splicer being dealt with by a security bot. Apparently, the splicer left behind something. A wrench. Woohoo, a weapon! Watch as I flail around this weapon of mass destruction. Yep, still screwed. It does help us get through the debris and past a couple of encounters with some very weak splicers. After we kill one splicer in particular, he drops something called an EVE Hypo. It is about that time we come upon a flashing neon sign which looks like it has something called a plasmid that we can take.
As we take the plasmid from the machine, we watch in horror as our entire genetic makeup is starting to be transformed. Wait…this is isn’t exactly a daily occurrence. I got up, went to the store for some milk and cookies, on the way back we got a complete genetic makeover. Yeah, there are my milk and cookies right there next to me in a pool of vomit. The shock to our system makes us collapse into a heap. If “Game Over” came up at this point, I would completely understand.
However, our eyes are treated to a bevy of monsters who sniff and poke and prod our body. I think we even saw Oprah Winfrey at one point which would explain A LOT. The most horrifying sight is a little girl protected by some huge machine with a drill for an arm. Apparently we are spared for now as we wake up. The plasmid we have absorbed is called Electro Bolt and can give enemies quite the shock. It also can overload some circuits which will open a few doors for us.
We soon come upon our second weapon, an actual firearm or a pistol. Luckily for us it was sitting in a baby carriage. There was a splicer posing as a mother but I knocked her down with the wrench before they ever knew what happened. Soon, we come upon scaffolding that we have to cross. But we have to do it very quietly since a Little Sister and Big Daddy are having a conversation with a Thuggish Splicer. Okay, it is not a conversation just the Big Daddy is introducing the splicer to his internal organs.
This whole time, Atlas has been talking to us about Rapture, the things happening to our body and why he has a not so fresh feeling. Seriously, at this point I’m looking for the off button on the radio. But he is useful in some spots, so we keep on going. Eventually we are making our way to the Medical Pavilion. The last obstacle comes in the form of a small room with television monitors and an airlock. Suddenly, there is a mountain of splicers who are trying break through. Andrew Ryan has also realized that you are now here and he isn’t too happy about it. With a final push, the airlock opens and you step into the Medical Pavilion.
At this point, one would probably like to change their pair of pants. Instead we get the Circus of Value which amounts to a glorified vending machine. Here one can find everything from First Aid Kits to Ammunition. Right next to the vending machine is a security bot that can be hacked. Hacking involves the concept of controlling an energy flow by lining up pipe correctly to get to the exit. Unfortunately, if one is unsuccessful you then get a little shock. By hacking the bot, you are also able to hack a variety of other machines including health stations, vending machines and safes.
One can also shoot health stations which will give us a couple of first aid kits which I didn’t figure out until much later in the level. To be honest, for a lot of this level I felt like I was fumbling around in the dark. But it is in a good way as certain actions become easier and we learn the concept of how to headshot effectively. Back to the level where we find another weapon, this time a machine gun. We soon put that sucker to use and mow down about half a dozen splicers. This game excels at giving somebody a certain weapon or plasmid and then giving you an exercise at using that skill so you can learn it quickly.
We soon come upon our first boss, Dr. Steinman. He’s a plastic surgeon who has become quite mad. The first encounter with him doesn’t last long and he actually retreats to the surgery ward leaving a pile of debris for you to figure out a way to get through. The next part of this pavilion we will find is the Eternal Flame Crematorium (Did Susanna Hoffs get into a new line of work?). Here we will gain two important items, the Hacker’s Delight tonic (which will actually grant us health for hacking machines) and the Incinerate plasmid which renders enemies TOASTY! (My contract states that I must work in a Mortal Kombat reference at least once in every gaming write-up).
Atlas gets the bright idea that we need a new plasmid called Telekinesis to get past the debris. He mentions that we can go over to Dandy Dental and grab it over there. Why does Atlas know so bloody much about this place? Anyway, we go over there and are put through a tennis ball exercise to learn how to use our new power. We go back to the surgery ward where we run into a never ending wave of Nitro Splicers until we learn how to direct their bombs into the pile of debris. Since they sit on a balcony, be sure to use our new power to also collect the loot by grabbing their bodies and bringing it towards us.
By now, we have also acquired the shotgun which will be useful in almost every situation where you must kill something. It’s boss time. We find Dr. Steinman cutting up a fresh patient and basically hacking them to pieces. Yeah, he’s lost it. I don’t think he’ll be a guest star on the next season of Nip/Tuck. He spots us (crap) and comes after us with a machine gun. Basically he dances all around the ward trying to shoot us into oblivion. Another thing that will frustrate people to no end is that some monsters are intelligent enough to use health stations. However, if you get in the practice of either hacking them or shooting them down, this will stop that in a hurry.
After some work, we realize that an electro bolt and shotgun combo finishes off the doctor and he drops a key which will lead you to unlock the Emergency Access area. Hey, we are getting pretty good at this game. I keep thinking we are forgetting something…
I need first aid, I need hypos, I need ammunition, heck I need the Expendables!
…I hope you have enjoyed the Bioshock 1 experience. Check back on the 29th to see me tackle the second Bioshock. Hopefully my pants are changed by then.